“How did you know me?” she asked in a hollow voice.
“My lady, it was that night when there was an alarm of fire. I went close up to you to take Master Archibald from your arms; and, as sure as I am now standing here, I believe that for the moment my senses left me. I thought I saw a spectre—the spectre of my dead lady. I forgot the present; I forgot that all were standing round me; that you, Madame Vine, were alive before me. Your face was not disguised then; the moonlight shone full upon it, and I knew it, after the first few moments of terror, to be, in dreadful truth, the living one of Lady Isabel. My lady, come away! We shall have Mr. Carlyle here.”
Poor thing! She sank upon her knees, in her humility, her dread. “Oh, Joyce, have pity upon me! don’t betray me! I will leave the house; indeed I will. Don’t betray me while I am in it!”
“My lady, you have nothing to fear from me. I have kept the secret buried within my breast since then. Last April! It has nearly been too much for me. By night and by day I have had no peace, dreading what might come out. Think of the awful confusion, the consequences, should it come to the knowledge of Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle. Indeed, my lady, you never ought to have come.”
“Joyce,” she said, hollowly, lifting her haggard face, “I could not keep away from my unhappy children. Is it no punishment to me, think you, the being here?” she added, vehemently. “To see him—my husband—the husband of another! It is killing me.”
“Oh, my lady, come away! I hear him; I hear him!”
Partly coaxing, partly dragging her, Joyce took her into her own room, and left her there. Mr. Carlyle was at that moment at the door of the sick one. Joyce sprang forward. Her face, in her emotion and fear, was of one livid whiteness, and she shook as William had shaken, poor child, in the afternoon. It was only too apparent in the well-lighted corridor.
“Joyce,” he exclaimed, in amazement, “what ails you?”
“Sir! master!” she panted; “be prepared. Master William—Master William——”
“Joyce! Not dead!”
“Alas, yes, sir!”
Mr. Carlyle strode into the chamber. But ere he was well across it, he turned back to slip the bolt of the door. On the pillow lay the white, thin face, at rest now.
“My boy! my boy! Oh, my God!” he murmured, in bowed reverence, “mayest Thou have received this child to rest in Jesus, even as, I trust, Thou hadst already received his unhappy mother!”
LORD VANE DATING FORWARD.
To the burial of William Carlyle came Lord Mount Severn and his son. Wilson had been right in her surmises as to the resting-place. The Carlyle vault was opened for him, and an order went forth to the sculptor for an inscription to be added to their marble tablet in the church: “William Vane Carlyle, eldest son of Archibald Carlyle, of East Lynne.” Amongst those who attended the funeral as mourners went one more notable in the eyes of the gazers than the rest—Richard Hare the younger.